Skoda Kushaq Monte Carlo long term review, 12,200km report
Published on Oct 08, 2023 08:00:00 AM
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While my long overdue drive to Goa didn’t materialise, our Skoda Kushaq long-termer finally got to stretch its legs outside city limits. It was to ferry video camerapersons Mrityunjay and Roshni, photographer Basil, and me to the Aamby Valley City airport at Lonavala. The Kushaq wasn’t going to be the hero car that day, not with four Porsches around – a 911 Turbo S, a Taycan Turbo S, a Panamera Turbo S and a Cayman GTS – but there’s much the crew and I learned about the Skoda.
For one, usable boot space is a lot more than the 385-litre capacity would lead you to believe. Camera crews don’t travel light and the tripods and camera bags take up a lot of room. But the Kushaq, with its deep floor, was able to accommodate all the kit comfortably. There was even space for the cones we’d need for the mega Porsche Turbo S drag race that we were driving up for. Not to gloat, but if there’s one area where ‘my’ Kushaq had the upper hand on the Porsches, it was luggage space. Their space saver spare tyres leave very little useable room.
The drive to Lonavala via the Mumbai-Pune Expressway was straightforward. Cruise control was put to good use on the long straights and the 1.5 TSI engine’s 150hp and 250Nm allowed easy progress up the ghats past trucks chugging up, of course, across all lanes. The fun bit was the climb from Lonavala to Aamby Valley; sweeping corners and hairpins make up much of the route, and it’s here that the taut Skoda reacquainted me with its crisp handling. The 7-speed DSG is also responsive to manual inputs at the paddles and all in all, as fun-to-drive SUVs go, the Kushaq is right up there. As much as the road highlighted the Kushaq’s handling, it also brought out its firm ride. Large patches of the road are in disrepair on which the Kushaq didn’t cushion us as well as it should have.
There was fog on certain sections of the climb (the auto headlights worked well in changing light) and when things cleared out, there were ominous clouds threatening to rain on our parade. But I guess even the weather gods wanted to see the Porsches go up against one another, and what we got was a long enough window of clear weather to complete the drags. The 911 Turbo S was the undisputed winner with a quarter mile time of 10.22 seconds. For reference, the Kushaq 1.5 TSI DSG recorded a 17.15-second time at our drag races last year. Gulp! Then again, the 911 sure as hell wouldn’t have matched the Kushaq’s 13.7kpl economy for the day’s drive from Mumbai, up to Aamby Valley and back to base.
I don’t know about other pockets of the country, but the Kushaq in Monte Carlo spec seems to be a hit in my neck of the woods. There are three on my parking floor alone, and I inevitably see another one or two on my commute to the office. Maybe they just catch my eyes more because to me, they’re the best-looking versions of the Kushaq. Replacing chrome with black is a win in my books, and as I’ve said before, the Kushaq can carry off the red interiors too. It’s an interior colour combo I associate with the legendary E46 BMW M3.
The Kushaq has not given us any trouble in its time with us, but I do wish some things were better. The touchscreen is really nice, though, at a time when rivals are offering 360-degree cameras, the Kushaq’s rearview camera really needs an update. And while at it, I hope Skoda can rethink the AC controls; the touch panel is fiddly to use on the go. On the plus side, the solid build (the odd creak from the beading notwithstanding), gem of an engine, keen handling and rich sounding audio system will stay with me.
I’m still angling for my next long-termer, but it’ll be hard to find something more fun and characterful than the Skoda Kushaq Monte Carlo.
|Price when new
|19.69 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
|9.8kpl (this month)
|January 2023, June 2023
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